Thursday, October 31, 2013

Story Time: Green-Eyed Tom

Mrs. Whitworth wished, so very often, that when she slept his eyes purged from thought, from memory. His warmth lingered, the green cast indelible stains. Unlike the others who had sought her, out of misguided competition,  the tomcat's love (for it was love gripped her. But more often than not, she felt watched over, protected, though she knew it wasn't possible.

“Come play a game with me,” he said. 

In the carnies’ absence, the animals and beasts of the fair arranged their own games of chance. The rules were simple, and they never cheated one another, unlike the two-legged gypsters.  But they altered the booths and games for their own amusement, including pranks on the booth operators.

For example, fair-goers never realized that the troll who ran the shooting gallery kept small vials of ashweed hidden behind the curtain, standing like mossy soldiers stuffed in glass on a splintered shelf. The effect of the brownish-green weed in the strict confines of glass struck the animals as incongruent. The ashweed needed to be freed. His addiction caused no one any harm, and indeed had a medicinal effect of keeping him calm: the incessant gunshots gave him the jitters, and the ashweed kept his eyes from twitching or even worse, turning a pistol on the crowd. Each month when the fair re-opened, he often wondered what happened to the stashes he knew he left behind as emergency hits: the crusty vials were redolent with the remains, but the weed was always gone. If he had been capable of more attentive notice, he would have seen tiny paw prints in white-grey ash walking off the edge of the shelves. Alas, he just blamed the carnie children for stealing it, smoked what he brought, and forgot the matter until the next month.

The canon operator: she was another matter. She kept perfect inventory of every cannonball, every ounce of gunpowder, and took her matches with her, (one never knew when something would need to be blown to smithereens). Her true job was not at the fair; that was, point-of-fact, her monthly holiday. Outside of the fair she controlled ammunition's disbursement at a local military base in the south. Currently the base saw no live fire or action, just the occasional skirmish between bored soldiers and locals. Firing off hopeful ‘marks’ with fake gold wings provided satisfaction.

However, for as detailed and maniacal about her equipment, she did not realize that the bottom layer of the cannonball pyramid hid an underground tunnel system. Perhaps she missed this because she was too busy sending telegraphed messages to her partner at the other end telling him when to move the target, and how much, and no one suspected swindling.

The architecture of the underground lair was worthy of the most skilled engineer: stolen bandages (from the medical tent), supported the weight. Bloodied and caked with dried pus gave it extra tinsel strength. Soundproof to all outside ears, during the fair or not, this labyrinth served many purposes. The tomcat used the passageways to play tricks on the cannon baller, whispering misguidance so that the flyers would make the mark, and thus no pay off. 

The turtle ring-tossing game met with ridicule, (they added weights to the rings) and the mechanical cars rusted in the off-season. The carousel remained. Cached beneath the calliope snaked a tiny hole, which led to the passageways, and the passageways led throughout the entire fairgrounds: from the bleachers of the music stand, and out to the wolves' woods. 

The game that every one plays is the initiation game: put the blindfold on, relinquish control, and go through the trial.

The tomcat said, “Once you’re done, you’ll be one of us, and stay here as my queen for as long as you like.”

Mrs. Whitworth felt the weight in her stomach; a stone that could never be dropped.

1 comment:

  1. Oh! Mrs. Whitworth! Are you never to return to the girl? And I have to say the Faire is going to have a different feel for me next time I visit now that I know a little more about those carnies back stories. I knew they were cheaty cheaters, but moving the drop zone! Damn them!


Thank you for your comment!